Change Indicator

Foster Care - Youth (ages 13 to 20) served during reporting period by placement goal in Pennsylvania

Foster Care - Youth (ages 13 to 20) served during reporting period by placement goal

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Note: Non-consecutive years appear adjacent in the trend line
because one or more years have been deselected.

Why This Indicator Matters

Foster care, also known as out-of-home care, is a court-monitored process that involves removing children from their families following a substantiated report of abuse or neglect. [1] All child maltreatment reports are investigated by either Child Protective Services (CPS) or General Protective Services (GPS), depending on the nature of the referral, to determine the child’s safety within the household as well as the level of risk for future harm.[2] Children are typically only placed in foster care after family preservation and in-home services fail to improve their safety and well-being in the home. Out-of-home placement is often viewed as temporary, as achieving and maintaining permanency is always the primary priority of child welfare agencies, whether that be in the form of reunification with their caregivers or finding new homes with relatives or adoptive families.[3] Family issues with substance use, mental illness, or domestic abuse are among the most common factors that lead to children entering the foster care system.[4]

By examining the population of foster youth ages 13-20 each year by placement goal, researchers are able to track longitudinal trends and changes associated with the placement intentions of children in out-of-home care. As shown in the following table, reunification to the original home, adoption to a new home, or guardianship are the most common placement goals. Other less common placement goals include living with relatives, long-term foster care, or emancipation. Research suggests that children thrive best in familiar environments, so placement with family members or close friends, known as kinship care, is usually preferred. Nationally, an estimated three in five children in foster care return home to their parents or other family members after being removed from their home.[5] While child safety is the foremost goal behind all placement decisions, family preference, cultural backgrounds, strengths and needs of the child, caretaker ability to meet these needs, location of their school, and continued connection to the community are additionally considered when making placement decisions.[6]


[1] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2023). Overview: Out-of-Home Care. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/outofhome/overview/

[2] Rizvi, M. B., Conners, G. P., King, K. C., Lopez, R. A., & Rabiner, J. (2022). Pennsylvania Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33351411/

[3] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2023). Achieving & Maintaining Permanency. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/permanency/

[4] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2023). Achieving & Maintaining Permanency. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/permanency/

[5] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Reunification: Bringing Your Child Home From Foster Care. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/reunification.pdf

[6] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2023). Placement Decisions. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/outofhome/placement/

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Definition and Source

PROVIDER

Definition

The most recent goal set for youth (age 13 and older) in foster care during the reporting period.

Data Source

PPC analysis of AFCARS longitudinal file produced by Public Consulting Group for Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Notes

S = Suppressed.  Statistics (rates, ratios, percents) are not calculated and displayed for counts less than 10 (or less than 3 for Bayesian/Nearest Neighbor rates). This is due to the unreliability of statistics based on small numbers of events.

Last Updated

May 2024